I got off a plane in Jacksonville, Florida. The air was thick with moisture. Light pines canopied ground palms in a spongy humus. I can tell this story of my home and nearby places, where sand dunes and razor grass fall into dells of mud and moss. Rowing through a bayou in North Carolina with trees sprouting from standing water and azaleas that were all bloom no branch. Plant life imprints on me. One of my first jobs was as a wholesaler at the San Francisco Flower Mart. At 18 I drove a truck, searching long greenhouses for near-blooming orchids.
For me plants shape place and time rather than just being individual objects. I usually draw from a single leaf or two which, when repeated, duplicates sensory immersion.
The first shadow drawings I made captured the flickering light under an oak tree.
Plant shadows are a perfect subject in that they are tenacious and diaphanous. They read unequivocally as themselves, no matter how distended the view. Since shadows from my perspective are not about the object but rather reference experience, palms and pines offer scent and visual connections that emerge from the thing of it.
I live in a beach town that has parallel rows of palm trees to mark what was the beach front, which has moved. In pruning season I ask the landscape managers to set a few 8 and 10’ fronds aside for me. I can have some, but not all. The rest go to the elephants, I learned.
I don’t really have a lot to say about these plant drawings except that I draw them because I like looking at them. They are always themselves. They are always surprising.